PA Dentist, Not NYC Responsible for This Medical Waste on Beach

Doc to pay $100,000 fine for dumping medical waste

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010  |  Updated 7:52 PM EDT
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PA Dentist, Not NYC Responsible for This Medical Waste on Beach

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During the peak of the summer, medical waste dumped along the Jersey Shore closed down beaches in Avalon 5 times.

For years, New York City always got the blame for medical waste that washed up on Garden State beaches.

And when it happened again in August of 2008, the first fingers of accusation pointed again at New York City.

But in a Cape May County courtroom Monday morning, Thomas W. McFarland, Jr, 61, of Wynnewood, Pa., pleaded guilt to 4th-degree unlawful discharge of water pollutants.

According to New Jersey's Attorney General office, McFarland, who owns a shore house in Middle Township, "admitted he took his small motor boat into Townsend Inlet at the north end of Avalon and dumped a bag of waste from his dental practice in Wynnewood.

The next day, the needles, cotton swabs and plastic capsules started washing up on 15 blocks worth of Avalon's beaches and the blame game began.

Many wondered if New York was up to its old dirty ways, but investigators with the State DEP quickly determined it was someone who had deliberately dumped medical practice waste that must, at a cost, be properly disposed of. Serial numbers on some of the waste led them to McFarland's practice.

The plea agreement for McFarland likely means he'll get a year's probation with no jail time. However, he also must pay $100,000 in restitution to Avalon which will use it for expenses at the time and for future environmental projects there.

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